Developing the Leader Within You
This week we sit down with Brad Greenman, “Mayor of Breakout City”, to talk about an upcoming video series about the book Developing the Leader Within You by John C. Maxwell. We’d like to encourage anyone interested to read along with us. The book is available here.
Think about it like a weekly book club, except you don’t have to go anywhere. You can participate from wherever you want. You will still have to listen to Jason talk about tea though.Comments
My view of leadership is not asking my team to do something that I’m not willing to do. Respect is a huge deal to me and having the respect of your team will make or break you. A great leader will get right into the trenches with their team instead of hiding in an office.
I always think of a leader as someone who takes it upon themselves to go beyond what is merely expected of them, or their job description, and go the extra mile to get things done and make sure other people are happy and accommodated (whether that be guests or other team members). In my mind this means like not just ticking the boxes off on a to-do list, but going beyond what I’m asked to do and trying to set an example – not just for other people but for myself, to prove that I can be a better person and employee and not just do the bare minimum. I think that’s the kind of example that I look for in other leaders as well, because it inspires me to know they aren’t just trying to scrape by with what they can get away with or trying to lead me by force, but that they care enough about the organization they’re in or the people they’re leading to put actual effort and time into their work.
“… [leadership] is the single greatest factor in whether a team succeeds or fails. A leader must find a way to become effective and drive high performance within his or her team in order to win… there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.”
I think that consistency is very important. Learning to become comfortable in doing uncomfortable things. It can be tempting to only do comfortable things and avoiding the tough stuff can cause big problems down the way.
Another thing that can have a huge impact is being accountable to the team and admitting to them when I’ve made a mistake. This has been huge. I think that it builds trust – Leadership does mean that you never make a mistake. I suppose that my idea of Leadership is how you choose to react to mistakes or issues.
I like what others have written so far, so I am sort of adding upon those things initally. My view of leadership is ownership. I think it’s easy to own the good, but it’s more important to own the rest. As a leader, you don’t own only your own mistakes, but the mistakes of your team — so leadership is building an environment where you let people fall down so that you can teach them how to get back up. A leader asks for help from people when they need to, so that people can see that it’s acceptable to not know everything.
Most importantly though, in my opinion, to lead is to walk into each interaction and each day not asking what people can do for you, but what you can bring to them. The energy of a person who goes into things not thinking of their personal reward, but what they are able to give to their team member, customer, or peer impacts an entire room in a positive manner; I believe that person becomes, or is, a leader by transforming the dynamic energy around them. If people believe in themselves because of something you’ve made them realize about themselves, they’re going to believe in you.
I feel like leadership takes more of a servant role amongst those they’re leading. Like others have said: a servant leader means being in the trenches, working alongside others, coming to the aid of others, developing others, and acting as a support for others to build them up into like-minded leaders who also feel compelled to help and develop others. I firmly believe that we should always ‘help the next one in line’ before we can continue our own personal climb upwards.
Leadership also means that as leaders, we learn to focus on what we can control and understand that we can ALWAYS be better at something; also taking the steps to achieving goals we’ve set for ourselves and helping others to do the same.
Finally, leadership, to me, means that we’re dynamic with our words, sincere in our actions, and thoughtful in our decisions.
“Finally, leadership, to me, means that we’re dynamic with our words, sincere in our actions, and thoughtful in our decisions.”
Quoted, for truth!
When I think about leadership some thoughts that immediately come to mind and questions I see myself constantly asking myself..
–My leadership is the extent in which others can perform
–What do I have to do that no one else can do?
–Am I doing what I do best?
–When you learn to prioritize you learn to be effective
–What is my level of integrity?
Great responses everyone!
Steph, I totally agree with you that leaders have to be willing to step into the fray with their teams and get their hands dirty when needed. This is a key element in earning the respect of your team.
There are a lot of situations that call for the leader to stand outside of the trenches and observe things from over the entire landscape to better equip their teams for the work in the trenches. For you, how do you prioritize/figure out when you are needed in the trenches or when you need to step out and above and lead from higher level?
District Manager’s please respond to this question as well, I’d like to hear how you all think through this. Anyone else interested in responding please feel free as well, the more discussion the merrier!
I have been in many situations where I have to take a step back and lead from a higher level. For example, when a team member is panicking over a room reset because their group was early, I simply calm them down and let them know that they have time. There are sometimes when I jump in and help, but only when it’s necessary for things to run smoothly and on time. There are times when team members have mini breakdowns because of the time crunch and I’m there to reassure them that everything is fine and they have no need to worry. I’m also very animate about being on time. When a team member doesn’t let me know that they’ll be running late, I have to take the higher ground and do a write-up, but if they communicate with me, that’s a different story. We can work together to make everything go as planned.
Communication is key to running a happy and productive team! 🙂
Here’s a few questions I think of, and an example of each.
Will this have a negative (or extremely positive) effect on the guest experience?
*A group arrives early and I help reset a room.
Are we in a spot where it’s okay to make a mistake in order to learn from it?
*Lobby host is on the phone and gives a policy-based no; I don’t grab the phone, but retrain later.
In order to develop a person, do I let them struggle with something that I ordinarily could do quickly?
*Letting someone figure out for themselves how to fix a broken box or assemble clues.
I think when it’s a situation where delegating a task can get that task done just as efficiently and not effect guest experience, it’s best to do that and make myself available to other tasks, like being up front with guests, overseeing other employees, doing my own work, etc. I think times of high stress to my team or tension for another reason (like a busy Saturday night, or a holiday shift, or an intoxicated group) are great times to make sure that I’m “in the trenches” with them. I don’t want my team to get the perception that I never work Saturday nights because I always go out (I do work almost all Saturday nights so this is clearly hypothetical) and that I’m fine to let them handle those stressful shifts alone. However, I do make sure that they are prepared and able to work those shifts. I think striking that balance is the important sweet spot to hit.
I think we have to approach each game/interaction the way that a coach would approach an upcoming game. It is our role to ensure that each person is prepared, has the tools required for success, and is aware of what can happen; we then have to let them perform. From the performance, we have to determine strengths and opportunities, and provide feedback that is tailored to that individual and their learning style. Each performance should improve, and the coach’s role should be able to be on the player’s growth and development versus their adequacy. Like a number of successful coaches, we should also have experience in our sport; I do think the team should hear you run games, and when we make a mistake, we should definitely be sharing that information with the team — not focusing on the mistake but the why behind it and the how we move beyond it.
Brad – I agree with those thoughts.
The willingness to get in the trenches & do the work are important but there are points when leadership means we delegate so we can step back to work on bigger picture projects or focus our energy on something that can’t be delegated.
The thought process I use to prioritize when to tackle a task verses delegate would be:
1. Is it something someone else can do? If not can I teach this task to someone so they get a chance to learn?
2. Is it an immediate need? There are times when the windows are dirty for example & everyone is busy running a game or on the phone. At times like this I think a great leader sees the dynamics of what is happening & quickly jumps in to do the dirty work.
3. Is it something I have done before? The leaders I have always respected the most are the ones that have done what you are asking of them. The have stayed to run the midnight games before & know how tiring it can be for example. By a leader having done what they are asking also gives them the expertise & knowledge to command respect of what they are telling others to do.
Finally, at the risk of being a bit of a contrarian, here is a 2 min interesting take on leadership from a Christian perspective: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gwyx1igxYY
In short great leadership is being a servant to those around you & caring deeply about them. This doesn’t always mean doing the “work in the trenches.” For example by focusing on marketing efforts I am caring for my team by seeking to get more games booked so they can get more hours for example.
Leadership is all about balance. In looking at the qualities a good leader possesses, one might even go as far as to say leadership is just one big paradox. In Breakout form:
Steadfast but Flexible
Obstinate but Nuanced
Firm but Accommodating
Knowledgeable but Learning
A leader will possess an array of differing traits, and the successful leader will be able to employ them appropriately with care and discernment. The leader lays a foundation made from extremely clear and concise expectations. Those within the sphere of influence of a given leader will know exactly what the leader will and will not tolerate, and how to approach the leader boldly, without fear. The leader understands that it isn’t what they say, but what they tolerate, that becomes the accepted norm. Lastly, the leader is not without faults; learning from mistakes and remaining courageous in the face of difficulties is their greatest asset.
Be mindful, of course, that none of the statements above have to describe a person in any certain position within a company. A leader embodies these traits regardless of their “position.”
I endeavor to prioritize using Stephen Covey’s “Time Management Matrix.”
As for developing leaders under and around me, I look for small victories of theirs to comment and commend them on. I find that when people have a strong foundation, they are better equipped for adversity.
Sometimes fellow associates of mine ask me to help, but what they’re really asking for is for me to solve it for them. I encourage them and let them know that I will be available for them if they want to talk through issues. Of course, I’m not going to completely ignore them.